It’s National Volunteer Week so we caught up with Kylee and her therapy pal, Addie. Addie is a Jack Russell rescue dog and together as a team they are involved in a program called, Magical Paws.
“Magical Paws is fantastic! Addie and I are in the university therapy part of the program, so we visit Algoma University on designated therapy days with the group of dogs and their owners/handlers who are also in the program. There are currently 7 dogs, ranging from tiny 3lb Chihuahuas to a big 100lb St. Bernard! Magical Paws also visits nursing homes and elementary schools to help students with reading.”
Therapy programs in universities have been a proven method of relieving stress in the students. Kylee tells us how this program works;
“Addie plays the most central role in the work we do. At therapy visits, she is the focus. Students come to see the dogs, not the people. All I do is hold her leash and answer any questions students may have about her. I also hand out treats for students to give to Addie (food is definitely the way to her heart). Addie is very important to the volunteer work, as are all of the dogs in the program. Students have their favourites, and show up every therapy day to snuggle with them!”
She goes on to tell us the effects on the students;
“The students love the dogs. It is amazing to see a student come to say hello to the dogs – especially when they are familiar with the dog and what the dog likes. It is also awesome to see the students who are unsure about approaching the dogs get down on the floor to snuggle and play with them. The smiles and conversations in those moments really are priceless!”
The best part
..of the job is watching the students respond to the dogs. I have watched countless times as students have come out of their shells when they are interacting with the dogs, and I never get tired of witnessing it. The dogs are fantastic and the students respond so positively to them.
The worst part?
Packing up and going home! We always end up lingering around a little longer because the dogs really are loved. It is no fun leaving at the end of the session, but we always look forward to the next ones!”
Not only is Kylee and Addie an amazing team, but all the dogs have been given a second chance at life. Kylee finishes up by saying;
“I am proud of Addie and our entire therapy dog group. Every dog in the program is a rescue animal; none of them came from ideal situations. It is really special to see an entire group of therapy animals who are from rescue/shelter situations. It just goes to show what love and patience can do!”
Thank you Kylee and Addie for your dedication and we applaud you on this National Volunteer Week. Keep up the great work!
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